Thursday, 18 July 2013

ALAN BENNETT - SMUT

Synopsis/blurb.....

The Shielding of Mrs Forbes.

Graham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother, who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. Though her own husband isn't all that satisfactory either. Still, this is Alan Bennett, so what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately more true to people's predilections.

The Greening of Mrs Donaldson

 Mrs Donaldson is a conventional middle-class woman beached on the shores of widowhood after a marriage that had been much like many others: happy to begin with, then satisfactory and finally dull. But when she decides to take in two lodgers, her mundane life becomes much more stimulating ...

I might have a bit of a theme developing here with my last book in part concerned with sexual hang-ups and behaviour. Rest assured, this is temporary as my next/latest read is a wee bit more traditionally rooted in the crime genre. It is nice to freshen things up now and again though.

I have obviously heard of the playwright Bennett and was intrigued enough to give try some of his shorter work, though apparently his memoir/autobiography/diary – Writing Home is supposed to be really interesting. It was a toss-up between Smut and Four Stories and Smut shaded it on length.

As a further aside, I was moved enough when reading this to buy a copy of the film adaptation of his award winning play The History Boys. Released in 2006, the Keane family four, youngest daughter excused – “14 and bored” were entertained last Sunday evening by the Grammar school boys and their teacher’s efforts to achieve entry into Oxford/Cambridge Universities.  The late, Richard Griffiths  was fantastic.

Back to Smut....

Amusing and slightly titillating, these two long short stories or novellas proved an entertaining diversion from my usual fare of crime, murder, police and thieves. Note to self - I think I ought to try and read outside my preferred genre a bit more often.   

Comedy writing can be a bit hit or miss, but when done well is satisfying. Bennett does it well, but also has me meditating on how closely we really know other people and on the secrets, often small things, that we keep from each other, particularly family. For a light book, Smut gave me some food for thought.

3 from 5

I think I got my copy, second-hand at the beginning of this year or end of last from either Amazon or E-Bay.


4 comments:

  1. Col - Right you are about the vagaries of comedy. It's certainly difficult to make it go smoothly - which is one reason for which I write crime, not comedy... ;-). Glad you thought this was a decent read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, it was interesting and fun and I will revisit him later, but not for a while. You would hope that when comedy doesn't work on the printed page, some judicious editorial input might save the day, not always though.

      Delete
  2. I had no idea that Alan Bennett had written so much, fiction or otherwise. I had heard of The History Boys and would like to see that film. I have read a long book of non-fiction pieces, Writing Home, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have the Uncommon Reader to read sometime (soonish). But I will have to seek other writings of his. Glad you alerted me to this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uncommon Reader interested me when I read about it, but I can't recall whether I bought it or not. I'll have to whittle the pile down and see if I come to it.

      Delete